Australians Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan were assured a gold medal before even setting sail on Wednesday afternoon, but that didn’t take any of the shine from their victory.
The terrific result made a second gold medal for the nation’s sailing team and marks the 15th for Team Australia in Tokyo.
After building an unassailable lead in the men’s two-person dinghy 470 class, the duo just had to finish the race and avoid an unlikely disqualification to claim their glorious gold medal.
But they didn’t take it easy, still putting on a show for the world watching on they still reached the finish line first.
It was the second gold medal for Gold Coast ace Belcher who won the same event in London nine years ago with Malcolm Page, while he and Ryan, from Newcastle, won silver in Rio in 2016.
The 38-year-old’s status has been secured as Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor while it would be Victor “The Medal Maker” Kovalenko’s seventh gold medal as coach.
“I’m happy, for sure,” 32-year-old Ryan said on Tuesday.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better week in terms of our performance.”
With the race removed from the Olympic program for Paris 2024, it was a historic moment for the pair.
“It’s the last race for the men’s 470 as a class at the Olympics, so I don’t know if that means you are a gold medallist for eternity but that’s the plan,” Ryan said on Tuesday.
There was no chance they would be overtaken on Wednesday, despite double points being on offer in the medal race.
On Wednesday afternoon, Team Australia was ranked fourth on the Tokyo Games medal tally, with 15 gold, four silver and 16 bronze medals.
- You can find an updated medal tally here.
It’s official: Historic bronze for Lee
Australian Kareena Lee made history on Wednesday, bringing home the nation’s first ever medal in the women’s marathon swimming.
But what some may have missed is the revelation that Lee dealt with an unexpected moment of adversity during the race – being hit by a fish.
A gilled adversary couldn’t prevent Lee charging to win a historic bronze medal just 1.7 seconds behind Brazilian winner Ana Marcela Cunha.
Lee and Rio Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal sprinted to the timing wall together, with the Dutch defending champion just pipping the Australian for the silver medal by 0.8 seconds in the 10-kilometre open water race at Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park.
The 27-year-old Queenslander said making it onto the podium was “incredible”.
“I don’t really think I’ve processed how it feels – it’s just incredible,” Lee said.
“It was the goal going in to come out with a medal and doing it at my first Olympics is incredible.”
With swimmers starting early Wednesday in water temperatures already at 29 degrees – just under the allowable limit of 31 degrees – Lee was in touch with the leaders throughout.
The Queensland school teacher made her move on the final lap, breaking away with Cunha and van Rouwendaal.
Competing at her third Olympics, Cunha’s winning time was one hour 59 minutes 30.8 seconds.
Lee was immediately on the phone after the race to her coach John “JR” Rodgers, with the 82-year-old legendary swim coach unable to travel to Tokyo due to poor health.
Lee said she had prepared for the conditions by training in a heated pool before travelling to Tokyo, but there was a wild element the pool could not prepare the athlete for.
“We were expecting the water temperature to be about 31 degrees because that’s what it was at the test event,” she said.
“So I’ve been training in a pool that was 31 degrees and the last couple of weeks leading in I went to Darwin which is similar air temperature to here.”
But forgive us for stating the obvious – there’s no wildlife in a pool, and Lee admitted being struck in the chest by a large fish during the race was a bit of a surprise.
“It jumped up and hit me… I didn’t know what it was at first and I was like ‘Woah’, she said.
“I was watching them jump out before but I didn’t think one would actually hit me.”
Lee didn’t say if the fish was to blame for her place on the podium, but one can wonder.
Youngsters put the ‘ollie’ in Olympics
Day 12 at the Tokyo Games provided a moment in the sun for the world’s youngest Olympians at the Ariake Skateboarding Park.
While Newcastle’s Poppy Olsen became the first Australian to make an Olympic skateboarding final, there was no denying 19-year-old Sakura Yosozumi, whose first ride in the eight-woman decider was enough to hold on for gold.
Her success on Wednesday comes on the back of earlier double Japanese gold in the street as skateboarding made its Olympic debut.
While Yosozumi grabbed a gold medal for host nation Japan, it was the silver and bronze places that really had people talking.
At just 12 years of age, Team Japan’s Kokona Hiraki nailed the final to claim silver with a 59.04 – just 1.05 points shy of becoming the youngest gold medallist in Olympic history.
Great Britain’s 13-year-old Sky Brown took home a brilliant bronze medal with a score of 56.47.
Kokona has become the youngest Olympic medallist in 85 years with Brown the youngest ever Summer Olympics medallist.
Australia’s Olsen didn’t make the dais – ranking 5th overall in a disappointing, yet still impressive end to her Tokyo journey.
The 21-year-old put it all on the line in her final effort, but what looked like a promising score capable of pushing up into the medals came unstuck with a spill in the final seconds.